We each face the human story of failure. Whether it’s a failed driver’s test, failed job interview, failed relationship or failed dream, broken expectations and falling short of our hopes remind us we are not in control. We find ourselves weak and embarrassed when we mess up. It’s easy to get lost, lose direction, withdraw or give up.
Bob Goff, in his New York Times bestseller, “Love Does,” writes, “Failure is just part of the process, and it’s not just okay; it’s better than okay. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.”
It is Jesus who reminds us that our story isn’t over the minute we mess up. Though it may not exactly feel natural at first to welcome failure with open arms, we can rest knowing that God has more than enough room for our shortcomings. In truth, God wants to use our failures to redeem us in the story He has written for us.
So how do we learn for ourselves, and also teach our teens, that failure strengthens our faith despite the pain and uncertainty it causes?
Start by choosing to learn from failure. Rather than seeing failure as a roadblock, use it as a way to find an alternative route. If we can find purpose in our failures, we can let go of defeat and seek the redemption story God has planned.
Be open to failure becoming a gift. Though this transformation can take time, our broken expectations can become a tool that builds us up in a new way. God gives us the chance to swing again if we choose to seek His opportunity.
Find encouragement in the growth failure offers. God works in every part of our lives, weaving every experience in our stories to lead us closer to Him. When we encounter failure and the pain that comes with it, we can find healing in its purpose. The growth causes us to increase our dependency on God and trust how He will use failure to strengthen us.
Sharing the struggle of failure with our teens can remind them to find grace in their ongoing story. When teens face failure, remember it is an opportunity for them to grow in their relationship with God and also lean into relationship with others like parents and safe friendships. Point them toward Him, and He will use their failure for redemption and write their story to make them stronger.